Lee Ann Womack travels a new road, but still hopes you dance

August 3, 2018

Lee Ann Womack travels a new road, but still hopes you dance

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Lee Ann Womack’s most popular song without a doubt is the uplifting message tune “I Hope You Dance.″

So it may be surprising to some that the East Texas-born singer-songwriter who is at the Music Box Supper Club on Thursday, Aug. 9, considers herself more a melody person.

“Nothing is better than when you get the right melody,″ said Womack in a call from her front porch outside Nashville.

And it’s even more surprising when you consider that her latest album, 2017′s “The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone,″ is so lyric-driven.

“I do think this record is very reflective of where I am in my career,″ said Womack, who has been on the scene since 1996, and is known as a neotraditionalist country singer.

“I had some cover songs like ‘Long Black Veil,’ ″ she said. “Then ‘The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone’ – when I heard it, that made me think of where I am in my career. It’s harder to get real country stuff.″

Even better, Womack said she feels the old country sound is coming back, which explains her own continued popularity and the surging success of artists like Brandy Clark and Margo Price.

The problem is as it always has been.

“It’s not that people don’t want it,″ she said. “It’s the marketing people between the artist and the audience.″

You have to “get past that hump,″ Womack said. “People are getting tired of stuff with a sheen on it. They’re drawn to something that has meaning.″

Oddly enough, it may be modern technology that is helping country music open its eyes to the past – and the future that’s possible because of it.

“With the internet right now, the music business is like the Wild West,″ she said. “Anything goes. I think there are people out there mining roots music, really good music, and I’m happy to see that.

″[The internet] in some ways killed the music business and in some ways is helping to save it,″ she said.

The album kicks off with a delightfully nasty country blues tune that shows off a voice not many would associate with the singer of “I Hope You Dance,″ which has a bit of a saccharine flavor to it.

“All the Trouble″ is a feisty, I-don’t-need-your-help tune that includes the line, “Even Cinderella had to find her own way home.″

“It’s a fun one to do,″ said Womack, who acknowledged that it’s a bit of an uncommon road for her to travel. It begins with an a cappella lament that sounds curiously and wonderfully like a variation of “Man of Constant Sorrow.″

“I think that one song kind of captures what I wanted to say with this record,″ she said.

That being said, there’s no question that she remains faithful to “Dance,″ even though a hit song like that can be a double-edged sword, because people tend to think that’s all you are.

“There’s no denying that at times it has felt like an albatross for me,″ Womack confessed. “But it’s also opened a lot of doors.″

But not the doors you might think.

“I don’t mean big doors in the business,″ she said. “It’s opened doors between me and the fans who would never have heard of me if they hadn’t heard that song.″

That is why it is and always will be a staple in her live show . . . even if you won’t hear it elsewhere.

“The problem was that all the TV shows wanted it over and over,″ she said. “At some point, you have to say ‘I’m not giving you that song to sell your show.’

“It’s a treasure,″ she said, intimating that commercializing it would devalue the tune. “I love doing it every night. People love it, and they sing along.″

Not that she expected it to become as big as it was when it was released in 2000.

“I have to give credit to [record producer] Mark White and [MCA label President] Tony Brown and the people at the label who knew and knew what kind of push they were going to give it,″ she said.

“I was just the girl who sang ‘Never Again, Again,’ ″ Womack said.

Who was in the hunt for a melody.


Lee Ann Womack When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9. Where: Music Box Supper Club, 1148 Main Ave. on the west bank of Cleveland’s Flats. Tickets: $35 in advance, $45 day of show, at the box office, at musicboxcle.com or by phone at 216-242-1250. VIP add-on: $50, includes signed album and print, autographed laminate, dated show set list, post-show meet-and-greet and photo with Womack.

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